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First Peoples' Assembly meet on Gunaikurnai Country

Dechlan Brennan -

Members of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, the democratically elected body for Indigenous Victorian’s, will meet on Gunaikurnai Country this week to further develop concepts and priorities ahead of the Treaty negotiations with the state government later this year. 

Whilst many of the ideas for the upcoming negotiations are firming up, the meeting in Lakes Entrance will see Assembly members continue to gather feedback from their communities.

It is expected to be the second last meeting before the Treaty negotiations formally begin. 

Assembly co-chair, Gunditjmara man Reuben Berg, said members were wanting to put more details into the proposals to take forward to the negotiation table before the statewide meeting of clans in Geelong next month. 

“We’ve got some important conversations on the agenda this week,” Mr Berg said.

“We’re looking forward to having a yarn with the independent treaty umpires for example, they’ll be presenting at the meeting.

“And of course, the discussions about how we as nations organise ourselves are always really important.” 

The Assembly has outlined four key ideas which will form the negotiating brief. 

These include a process and timetable for the transfer of decision-making powers to First Peoples; the implementation of key recommendations from the Yoorrook Justice Commission; expanding the role and power of the Assembly so it can provide advice to government; and outlining ways to respect and celebrate Indigenous culture and languages. 

Assembly co-chair and Wamba Wamba, Yorta Yorta, Dhudhuroa and Dja Dja Wurrung woman Ngarra Murray said she was confident Indigenous people in the state would unite behind the pillars of the brief. 

“When it comes to Aboriginal communities, Aboriginal people are the experts,” Ms Murray said. 

“So, our whole approach is underpinned by the belief that decisions about Aboriginal people – our communities, our cultures, our sacred sites and lands – should be made by Aboriginal people.” 

The meeting will also include an update on the Elders Voice, an application for a new Assembly seat, an introduction to the new Treaty Authority Members and an update on the Youth Voice.

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